After almost exactly two years, the U.S. Highway 169 and State Highway 41/County Road 78 interchange is wrapping up construction.
On Tuesday, Sept. 15, the crossroad and bridge will be open to traffic in all directions, said Construction & Design Manager Jake Balk with the Scott County Highway Department. The road should open at 3 p.m.
Cleanup work will continue for another six weeks or so, Balk said, but the interchange will be fully open to drivers and pedestrians.
The project’s main feature is a diamond interchange, one of seven in Minnesota according to the state’s transportation department (MnDOT). These types of bridge roadways are often used to cross a freeway under a less-used road.
With close to 80,000 vehicles per day traversing that stretch, Balk said it’s a more traffic-sensitive option than stoplights or a roundabout.
Those traveling on Highway 41, which now goes under the Highway 169 bridge, will wait for far less time than before to get to the other side of Highway 169, he said. Both directions of traffic on Highway 41 and County Road 78 cross to the opposite side of the bridge above U.S. Highway 169.
Drivers won’t make hard left turns but veer left for access.
“Before, you came up to the stoplight. You could go if there was a gap, (but) you have gaps now to kind of merge onto the highway,” he said.
MnDOT says diamond interchanges make roadways safer and less congested (up to 60% less traffic). But to some, it could be a confusing change.
“A (diverging diamond interchange) might feel a bit unusual at first, but with patience and practice, navigating this new way of travel will get easier with each trip,” the Scott County website reads.
The project stayed within its budget for both timeline and finances, Balk said, with expenses landing within 5% of anticipated costs.